Elemental Embodiment

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Coming soon to a kingdom near you, it's Earth, Wind and Fire, with special guest star Mason Stone!

The ultimate extension of Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors, the Elemental Embodiment is when the elements that are the basic building blocks of the universe get up and come for you. Usually called "elementals". They are usually mindless Mooks, but might well be very dangerous or smart or both. If they're sentient, that usually means that they have status as a type of Nature Spirit; if they're mindless but associated with nature anyway, they may serve as a midway point between Mother nature attacking you with animals and with natural disasters. They will usually be summoned out of thin air by people with Elemental Powers.

The Trope Maker is the occultist Paracelsus's description of the four elemental creatures: Undines (water), Sylphs (wind), Salamanders (fire), and Gnomes (earth). Undines are essentially naked women (usually robed in fantasy) that live in rivers and streams, Sylphs are usually represented as small winged fairies, Salamanders are generally quite a bit larger than the real-life variety, live in hot places like volcanoes, and breathe fire, and Gnomes are pretty much what you'd expect although they usually don't get much social interaction if they're relegated to being elementals, so any quirkiness they may have is usually lost.

In the vast majority of cases, the aforementioned four classical western elements will be embodied, with maybe one or two additions like "Darkness Elementals".

Variations include Golems and Snowlems. May have Volcanic Veins. If ice based, could wear An Ice Suit. Will rarely be turned or crossed into a Hybrid Monster due to Hybrid Overkill Avoidance.

Compare with Anthropomorphic Personification and Elemental Shapeshifter. See also Made of Evil, for when the element is... well, Evil, and their Super-Trope, Made of Magic.

Examples of Elemental Embodiment include:

Anime and Manga

  • The world of Berserk has the original four embodiments by Paracelcus. Isidro's Salamander Dagger for example gets its power from spirits shaped like... well, salamanders. Serpico's Wind Sword utilizes the power of sylphs to cut enemies from distance. (Apparently Puck is also a sort of wind spirit.) Elemental spirits rule over the elementals that represent the elements, and then there are also the Four Elemental Kings that rule over the lesser spirits.
  • Rakan mentions fighting The Ultimate Spirit of Lighting.
  • All the Logia type Devil Fruit users in One Piece can become this.

Card Games

  • Elementeo is an educational card game where the cards illustrate personifications of chemical elements and compounds - i.e. the Helium Genie, Lithium Leprechaun or Sodium Dragon.
  • Elementals are a creature type in Magic: The Gathering, ranging from the generic to the more exotic to the really exotic. Ravnica and Lorwyn also had the flame-kin and flamekin, fire and coal elementals that went against the usual "mindless mook" type.

Comic Books

  • In the Superman story arc 'For Tomorrow', 4 elemental giants attack the Man of Steel, ultimately threatening to wipe out humanity if he doesn't leave the planet. Superman responds by saying he'll rip the Earth to pieces and move on if they do.
    • Incidentally, the earth elemental took the form of Mount frigging Rushmore.
  • Also in The DCU, the elemental forces of the world sometimes choose humans as their champions, said mortals becoming living embodiments of their respective element. Swamp Thing is the best known of these, being the plant elemental; the idea that the hero Firestorm is the fire elemental has been used during the character's history. The Red Tornado is also a wind elemental that is simply embodied in a robot.
  • Marvel's Man-Thing also fulfills this role, amongst other parallels with his equally sludgy doppelganger.
  • Bill Willingham's comic, The Elementals.



  • The five ancient races from The Saga of the Noble Dead each embody one of the elements and bear similarities to Paracelsus's original examples. An additional race is also present representing the element 'spirit'. The life force of a member of each of these races was sacrificed in order to help create Magiere.
  • Codex Alera has wild furies. They usually just cause mindless destruction based on their particular element and can be destroyed with the opposite element. They can be a very large threat if furies of all six elements are present, since trying to counter one type of fury just increases the power of another type. However, a furycrafter working in an area where the wild furies know him can have his power boosted significantly, while those same furies might actively interfere with a stranger.
    • Then there's the Great Furies, which are extremely powerful entities controlling elemental powers in a general area. One, for example, is a volcano powerful enough to bury an entire province in lava is it erupts. Another, when angry (and the mere presence of humans annoys her to no end) can send tornados and thunderstorms after human settlements. And at the climax of First Lord's Fury, an earth fury named Garados gets pissed off and decides to get up and kick some ass. Garados is a mountain. Yes, the mountain stands up to about twice its height and starts on a rampage.
  • Starbreeze from the Alex Verus series is an air elemental. She's very powerful and seems good-natured but has a serious case of Attention Deficit Ooh Shiny There's also a lightning elemental (which is even more powerful but much less good-natured).
  • These creatures have their own world, Zoomenon, in the Quantum Gravity series. There are the basic ones of earth, wind, water, fire, and then ones for things like wood, metal, etc., up to and including numbers, which give off some type of pulse to mark whether they're 1, 2, 3, or whatever else. In addition, in Zoomenon, any element can be found in abundance in its pure state, regardless of how reactive it is.
  • In Poul Anderson's Operation Chaos, a college student summons a salamander. The fight to bring it down involves discussion of the other types.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Magic, Inc., the narrator's business is destroyed by earth, water, and fire elementals, and a witch deals with them to bring it back.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter trilogy, dealing with such elementals and preventing their causing disasters is Prospero Inc.'s reason for existence.
  • In Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock, sylphs form the machinery of the action:

For when the Fair in all their Pride expire,
To their first Elements the Souls retire:
The Sprights of fiery Termagants in Flame
Mount up, and take a Salamander's Name.
Soft yielding Minds to Water glide away,
And sip with Nymphs, their Elemental Tea.

The graver Prude sinks downward to a Gnome,
In search of Mischief still on Earth to roam.
The light Coquettes in Sylphs aloft repair,
And sport and flutter in the Fields of Air.'

  • Spren in Brandon Sanderson's The Stormlight Archive series. Not just the traditional elements but also emotional states and natural processes like decay and rot.
  • Discussed in Salamander. Common Knowledge is that wizards draw their power from elementals, but wizards in the series use a system of Innate Magic and modern theory is that either the Elementals don't exist or there's only four of them - each with total power over the element they incarnate.
  • Iron Council has elemental summoning as something different from Golem crafting, the main difference being that elementals are invoked from outside while golems are embodiments of the willworker's power through a medium. The elementals also get pretty unconventional, with the forces of New Crobuzon at one point summoning flesh elementals who swim through enemies like fish, leaving behind ruin as they pass, and a shapeshifting, massively powerful moonlight elemental. The Scar also features standard-issue lightning elementals.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters books, these exist on their own elemental plane and roam free in the physical. Only masters of the corresponding element can call them up. Persons without magic cannot even see them.
  • In The Saga of Seven Suns, there are the Verdani (Earth), sentient trees, the Faeros (Fire) who inhabit suns, the Hydrouges (Air) who inhabit the core of Gas-Giants and the Wentals (Water) sentient water.
  • The protagonist of the Iron Druid Chronicles is friends with several of these, including an iron elemental.
  • In Storm Constantine's Sea Dragon Heir the four traditional elements are embodied as sea dragons (water), firedrakes (fire), Basilisks (earth) and cockatrices (air)
  • In the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant Forestals are embodiments of whatever area they inhabit, usually forests, and are almost all powerful within that area.

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons & Dragons features the four classical elementals; each one has wildly different appearances and capabilities.
    • The Manual of the Planes expansion adds several different elemental planes, with corresponding entries for elementals of each para- and quasi- type. These could include ooze elementals, steam elementals, salt elementals, etc.
    • 4th edition has mixed this up (literally) with the Elemental Chaos replacing the old ordered Elemental Planes; the Chaos is basically an infinite orgy of the four major elements (similar to Limbo, a plane of chaos with swirling elemental matter in previous editions). The elemental matter of the plane can randomly gain awareness; travelers in the Elemental Chaos risk being chased by hovering lava flows or eaten by a hungry canyon. Most elementals are 'corrupted' or mixed with other elements (creating things like an Elemental which is a tornado that is on fire). The classic, 'pure' elementals didn't appear in a 4th Edition Monster Manual until Monster Manual 3.
    • For the curious, one existing description of the Elemental Chaos is thus:

Here, flame speaks and lightning dreams, iron hates and seas hunger. Islands of earth, ash, mud, salt, or semisolid smoke and flame, some as vast as continents, float amid an endless sky. Rivers of water, lava, or liquid air flow from oceans bounded by nothing solid, cross landscapes of broken crystal, and spill over cliff faces made of tangible lightning. Winds of heavy vapor are guided by currents of chaos, whipping into enormous storms of burning hail and sharp-edged thunder.

    • On the more Anthropomorphic Personification side of things, a quintet of the oldest, most powerful Elemental Beings are the five Princes of Elemental Evil; Imix (Prince of Fire), Ogremoch (Prince of Earth), Olhydra (Princess of Water), Yan-C-Bin (Prince of Air), and the oft-forgotten due to not being involved in the Temple of Elemental Evil Cryonax (Prince of Ice/Cold). They first appeared in the AD&D 1e Fiend Folio and received a 3.5 update in Dragon (magazine) #347. Issue #353 then gave then gave the same treatment to the four Princes of Elemental Good; Ben-Hadar (Prince of Water), Chan (Princess of Air), Sunnis (Princess of Earth) and Zaaman Rul (Prince of Fire), who had gone unnoticed since the Planescape Monstrous Compendium III and Inner Planes sourcebooks.
  • Changeling: The Lost has changelings of the Elemental seeming, people who were taken by The Fair Folk and literally turned into mighty oaks, flames for forges, and burbling streams before escaping back to Earth. They're hardier than the typical human, but have trouble relating to others due to spending so much time as an inanimate object.
    • The Inanimae of Changeling: The Dreaming are fae spirits bonded to the elements - air, earth, fire, water, wood, and human constructs.
    • Werewolf: The Apocalypse did its share of this; everything seems to have had an elemental spirit; on top of classical elementals, there were compound elementals and even modern elementals, like steel and glass elementals, even atomic elementals.
  • Elementals exist in the world of Exalted, too; a few are mindless, but they're generally spirits in the same vein as the gods, using a lot of the same Charms and abilities. Because they're naturally material in Creation, and come from the raw elements in the normal world, though, they're considered bumpkins by the actual gods. Except for the most powerful elementals, that is. Lesser Elemental Dragons are NOT fucked with. And Greater Elemental Dragons? Umm...
  • GURPS: Dungeon Fantasy (a mash up of D&D tropes) allows Clerics and Holy Warriors to have a Divine Servitor like this. A few of the elemental choices are slightly odd, like Beauty and Deception.
    • In fact GURPS: Magic has a bunch of spells that turn you into the elemental embodiments of everything from Fire to Plastic.
  • Rifts treats its elementals much like Dungeons & Dragons, but with the added relationship to Warlocks, which in this game are magic-users who form pacts with Elemental Intelligences for their power. Elementals and Warlocks have an amazingly cordial relationship, and an Elemental that has been ordered to say, rampage through a city, will actually stop to talk to another warlock it meets while there, and will even helpfully tell him how to stop it if he should ask ("my summoner's over in the mansion six miles east of here, why not take it up with him?").
  • Shadowrun has standard elementals that are summonable by hermetic mages but also Spirits of Land, Sky, Water and Man which are summoned by shamans (and have subdivisions dependent on Terrain like Lake or Swamp Spirits).
    • Third Edition introduced Spirits of the Elements (different from elementals) and called them gnomes (earth), salamanders (fire), sylphs (air), undines (water) and manitou (wood).


Video Games

  • MARDEK features elementals on the Elemental Temples. Supposedly they are created by the elemental energy emitted by the Great Crystals. They appear as swirly glows with a symbol-like squiggle on them. They are mindless and don't attack so much as leak energy when disrupted. As of chapter 3, you only encounter Earth, Fire, Water and Dark versions, but later chapters may have Air, Light, Fig, and Aether elementals as well, although Fig and Aether would probably be restricted to the Dreamrealm.
  • The avatars of the four elements are recurring bosses in the Final Fantasy series, going by the name "the Four Fiends".
    • Final Fantasy I and IX had Lich for earth, Marilith for fire, Kraken for water and Tiamat for air.
    • Final Fantasy IV had Scarmiglione for earth, Cagnazzo for water, Barbariccia for air and Rubicante for fire.
    • Final Fantasy XI and XII had elementals that would occasionally appear in some areas (in a couple varieties of toughness in XII's case.) They're usually way stronger than any of the other enemies in the area, but luckily they would leave you alone unless you attacked them or used magic nearby. Of course, in XII you could land yourself in a heap of trouble by having your characters automatically cast one of their buffs when it wore off...
  • In the NES game Ironsword: Wizards & Warriors II, the first four bosses are the elementals of wind, water, fire, and earth.
  • The Elder Scrolls games have both elemental automatons (called "golems" in Arena and "atronaches" in Daggerfall) and elemental Daedra ("Daemon" in Arena, "Daedra" in Daggerfall, and "atronaches" otherwise) hidden in their bestiaries.
    • Constructed golems only existed pre-Morrowind. Arena included Ice, Stone, and Iron and Daggerfall introduced Fire, Flesh, and the unseen types called Air, Water, and Earth.
    • Daedra have always been common to The Elder Scrolls games. Arena had only Fire Daemons, Daggerfall included both Fire and Frost Daedra, while every game past Morrowind has included a third type called the Storm Atronach.
    • Pre-Morrowind, all atronachs were constructed, and the descriptions defined them as the standard Dungeons & Dragons golem, with a few additional flavors. From Morrowind on, they became elementals native to Oblivion.
  • Several of the Titans in God of War are made up of their elements. For example, Perses ("Volcanic Destruction" in Greek) is walking lava and Oceanus is water and lightning.
  • World of Warcraft has plenty of elementals. There's the usual fire/water/earth/air ones, but also various combinations of the types (for example lava=fire+earth) and more exotic types such as arcane elementals and voidwalkers (while technically demon- not elemental-type mobs, they can be considered elementals of shadow). Plant creatures are also elemental-type mobs.
    • Notably not mindless mooks, they were the original inhabitants of the planet before life was created (and they were banished to Another Dimension) and have had civilizations (and wars) that have lasted millions of years. The little guys tend to get enslaved rather easily, but the leaders tend to cause geographical changes when summoned.
    • In addition to the four classic elemental lords the Burning Crusade expansion also introduced Murmur, the elemental lord of sound. However no lesser such entities have been encountered as of yet, making Murmur's origin something of a mystery.
    • The fourth expansion Mists of Pandaria introduces Alementals.
  • The elementals first appear in Heroes of Might and Magic 2 as natural creature with traditional Air/Earth/Fire/Water. In 3's Armageddon's Blade expansion pack, they are part of new Conflux town and new Psychic was added as new elemetal. They have upgrade form as Storm/Magma/Energy/Ice and Magic. While Psychic elemental was removed from later games, the tradition four remain.
  • Drakengard ally characters have elemental summons: Leonard has a fairy (sylph), Arioch has Undine and Salamander, and Seere has... a golem. They do, however, mention a stonecrafting race that makes (different) golems, they might be gnomes.
  • Spiritmasters in Aion summon these.
  • The World of Mana series has the four elementals in the page description (Undine, Jinn/Sylph, Gnome, and Salamander), as well as the darkness elemental Shade, the light elemental Lumina, the wood elemental Dryad, and the moon elemental Luna. Legend of Mana replaced Luna with Aura the metal elemental.
  • Progress Quest has Bacon, Cheese, Hair, Sand and... Porn Elementals. Talk about basic building blocks of the universe.
  • The Golems of Enchanted Arms are made up of all sorts of material, but the Queen of Ice and her dragons are explicitly god-level elementals.
  • The Four Elementals are summoned against you in the second Quest for Glory game. Based on some jokes made in the original series, the Fan Remake includes a Pizza Elemental as an Easter Egg.
  • Kingdom of Loathing includes a Grass Elemental, a Spaghetti Elemental and a BASIC Elemental. (The programming language.)
  • Djinn in Golden Sun are Elemental spirits released by the theft of the Elemental Stars. They provide stat bonuses, Class changes, Summon Magic, and their own unique individual powers.
  • RuneScape has its share of elementals. They're most prominently featured in the "Elemental Workshop" quest, which features air, earth, water, and fire elementals. The "Desert Treasure" quest also features Elemental Embodiments of Blood, Shadow, Ice, and Smoke.
  • "Arcanists" has these as minions that you can summon.
  • Dragon Fable has various elementals, not just limited to the four classic western elements.
  • The various Guild Wars campaigns have featured elementals, but there is an obvious imbalance in their populations. Earth and water/ice elementals are extremely common, while fire is rarer and only two variants of air-type exist.
  • From the Atelier, the Atelier Iris and Mana Khemia subseries have these. Although they can be found as common enemies others are key to the games' alchemy systems and mythology. Elements range from the normal four to things like Creation, Dimension & Wishes.
  • Pokémon has had a few elemental embodiments. Legendary Pokémon tend to be this.
  • The nebulas in Xenoblade Chronicles are living clouds of ether energy that resemble their namesake. They come in six different colors, each representing one of the game's elements (Fire, water, electricity, ice, wind, and earth), and generally appear in areas and/or weather conditions related to those elements. They also make for annoying opponents, due to being highly resistant to physical attacks, applying status effects whenever they're struck, and having a tendency to self-destruct and deprive you of loot when low on HP.
  • In City of Heroes, the final power of almost every control powerset is the ability to summon pets made of the set's element. With most sets, you can only have one out at a time, but Electric Control summons two Gremlins, and Fire Control gets three Fire Imps. The only exception to this is Mind Control, which gets Mass Confusion instead.
  • The bahmi race in Rift are part air elemental. Oddly enough, they're stouts.
  • Monster Girl Quest has the four Great Spirits that embody the classical elements: Sylph, Gnome, Undine and Salamander. There's also Ilias and Alice I, the embodiments of holy and dark energy respectively, who are so powerful that they are considered goddesses.

Web Comics

  • Elementals in What's Shakin', called Eternals, embody a single element. The only eternal seen so far has been Fred.
  • Amusingly played with by Order of the Stick, where the cleric Redcloak proves the value of a rudimentary education in chemistry with Chlorine Elementals, Titanium Elementals, and Osmium Elementals.
    • In case you're wondering, the Titanium Elementals were fired out of catapults during a castle assault, and the chlorine elemental was used to kill infantry with its poison gas.
    • Redcloak also takes the opportunity to point out that fire isn't even an element. They're not called "reactionals."
      • Vaarsuvius, however, is not amused, complaining that Redcloak has no appreciation for the classics.
  • MSF High: Rainer MAY qualify for this.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: Antimony discovers that one of her ancestors was "some sort of fire elemental".

Web Original

  • In The Gamers Alliance, elementals are rare but powerful creatures whose power is rivalled only by the gods and the dragons. They are usually sealed within magical objects, and it takes the right amount of knowledge and spells to set them free. A fire elemental burned down the military school Graves Hall and most of the students and masters, an ice elemental froze and shattered one quarter of Remonton and over half of its citizens, and an earth elemental killed off hundreds of demons. Thankfully all of the elementals seen so far have only wrought destruction for a short while until they became weary and decided to return to the High Plane to be reunited with their sisters and brothers.
  • The Global Guardians PBEM Universe had a few characters who were the embodiment of the elements. Ifrit was a literal fire demon from Islamic mythology. Maelstrom was the "lord of storms" and could control wind, wave, and lightning. Indian superheroine Dhara is the embodiment of the Vedic goddess of the earth.
  • Cracked.com's #8 Science Lesson As Taught by Famous Video Games represents them as hot chicks.

Western Animation

  • The cartoon incarnations of Thunder and Lightning from Teen Titans.
  • The WITCH become this in the last episode of season 2. Also counts as a Deadly Upgrade as they lose their humanity in the process.
  • Frictor, the evil friction elemental from The Ripping Friends. Created by exposing the heroes' foot calluses to radiation. Yes, you read that correctly.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, dragons are the original firebenders, "sky-bison" (flying white striped buffalo) are the original airbenders, and "badger-moles" (huge blind digging badgers) are the oldest earthbenders. Water is unique in the fact that the original waterbender was the moon, but the embodiment of the ocean is a Koi fish named La.